By Ron VandenBoom
FORT BELKNAP -- The 33rd annual Fort Belknap Mid-Winter Fair will open its doors to the public Feb. 2-5 at the Fort Belknap Agency.
The fair will offer four days of fun, music, and unique cultural events that adhere to this year's theme -- "Into The New Millennium Proudly Carrying Our Culture."
The fair will feature Miss Indian Nations Vonnie Jo Alberts, 1999 Miss Mid-Winter Fair Trista Raye Doney and the musical talents of Christian singing artist, Susie Luchsinger -- the younger sister of Reba McEntire.
Alberts, who arrived in Havre Tuesday, said she is looking forword to visiting Fort Belknap and the fair and plans to spend some of her time speaking to school children on the reservation.
"I'm a strong advocate for Native American youth," Alberts said, adding that she sees herself as a role-model for younger people and has committed herself to an alcohol- and drug-free lifestyle.
"It is very important that Native peoples give Native youth somebody to look up to," she said.
Alberts said she will stress the importance of education and the need to strive to do well in school.
Alberts also plans to dance traditional dance Friday evening during the Grand Entry and Pow-Wow at 7.
The public doesn't have to wait until Friday to start enjoying the festivities of the Mid-Winter Fair.
The judging of exhibits started at 9 this morning and the exhibit area will be open at the Red Whip Center at the Fort Belknap Agency starting at 1 p.m. today. A banquet will be held in the Red Whip Gym at 5:30 p.m.
Fair doors will open at 8 a.m. Thursday with Headstart activities heading the morning activities at 11 and opening ceremonies including exhibition dancing and fiddle music, taking place at noon.
The first of three baby contests to be held during the fair will begin at 1 p.m. and feature infants up to 6 months old.
The Fiddle and Jig Contest will highlight the evening entertainment starting at 7 p.m. and will include a basket social auction.
The second edition of the baby contest featuring the 7- through 12-month-old children will kick off Friday's activities at 11 a.m. with the opening ceremonies starting at 1 p.m. This opening ceremony will feature the introduction of Miss Indian Nations and Miss Mid-Winter Fair.
The high school bands will play starting at 1:30 p.m. followed by a musical jam session and carnival at 2:30 p.m.
If you enjoy good dirty competition, then don't miss the Youth and Adult Pie Eating Contest that begins at 3:30 p.m.
Friday also features the Grand Entry and Pow-Wow at 7 p.m.
Saturday starts with the 9 a.m. fun run at the Fort Belknap Agency followed by a breakfast at 10 a.m.
The third of the three baby contests will follow breakfast at 10:30 a.m. and feature children 13 months to 2 years of age.
Bingo players will kick off Saturday afternoon with a carnival and bingo games being offered at 1 p.m.
A Health Food Cookoff will also be held at 2 p.m.
The Saturday evening highlight will be the concert by Susie Luchsinger, a Christian vocalist and the younger sister of Reba McEntire. The concert begins at 7 p.m. at Harlem High School. The cost is $7. Luchsinger has received many musical awards over the years and was nominated for the Dove Award in 1999.